Manet at the Bar

Better Essays
Kevin Chapman
ARTH 2720-001
Term Paper
December 5, 2012
Manet and The Bar
Edouard Manet’s painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergere, was completed in 1882 and is considered his last great painting. He displayed it at the Paris Salon just one year before his passing. This painting as vexed art historians throughout the years for its complex visual subject matter and leaves Manets true interpretation of his painting in the air for discussion. Although there are many interpretations, A Bar at the Folies-Bergere is an avant-garde; viewer engaging painting meant to give the viewer a new perspective, hence the mirror.
At this time the Folies-Bergere was one of the most elaborate variety shows in Paris, all sorts of entertainment could be viewed here, from circus acts to ballets. It was a literal social gathering of who’s- who’s and Paris’ finest. One of the many entertainment attractions were the “barmaids”. These woman were available as; in leman terms prostitutes. Manet gave us a stone cold view and almost feeling of the barmaid. Manet didn’t just paint a portrait of a barmaid, but brought in so much psychology and thought provoking work, that makes the viewer not only want to know whats happening, but feels like they need to know what’s happening.
In the painting you have a young barmaid standing behind a counter, the counter is the foreground and is covered with wine bottles, flowers, and fruit. The background is what draws a lot of discussion. You have a mirror that covers the entire background and projects what is essentially behind you as the viewer. In the mirror, the first thing you notice is the strange man with the moustache, presumably speaking with the barmaid. You then have a large depiction of the Folies-Bergere music hall that is filled with all kinds of Parisians. Manet seems to give the young barmaid facing the audience a look of self-dignity, which was odd for Parisian barmaids at this time. The barmaids were meant to increase the sales of drinks and

Cited: de Duve, Thierry, and Brian Holmes. "How Manet 's 'A Bar At The Folies-Bergère ' Is Constructed." Critical Inquiry 1 (1998): 136. JSTOR Arts & Sciences III. Web. 6 Dec. 2012. Iskin, Ruth E. "Selling, Seduction, And Soliciting The Eye: Manet 's Bar At The Folies-Bergère." The Art Bulletin 1 (1995): 25. JSTOR Arts & Sciences III. Web. 6 Dec. 2012.

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